Catholic and COG Views on Halloween

Halloween in Ireland


Halloween is often considered as a Catholic holiday, but within Catholicism there are different views of it.

Here is the view of one Catholic writer endorsing Halloween:

It should be noted that Halloween is a Catholic holiday. Pope Gregory IV in 835 made it the universal practice in the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1. All Souls’ Day follows the next day as the commemoration of all of the faithful who have departed.

“All Hallows’ Even” as the evening before All Hallows’ Day — All Saints’ Day – eventually became shortened to Halloween. Hallow, as in “hallowed be thy name” in the Lord’s Prayer, is an older form of the word “holy.”

It was the Protestant Reformation that rejected the universal practice of devotion to the dead (Martin Luther dropped any references to praying for the dead from his Bible). This Catholic holiday was attacked, much like the church as a whole, for being pagan and evil. Hence I wouldn’t be surprised if this cloud of suspicion hovering over Halloween originated from the spirit of anti-Catholicism.

But Nov. 1st was the day of the Celtic Summer’s End feast of Samhain, the day when the dead returned to the earth. We have retained some of these pagan elements to Halloween, as is true of Christmas and Easter.

Why would a pope put the Catholic celebration of the dead on top of the pagans’ celebrations of the dead? Because the Catholic feasts are in continuity and fulfill the meaning of the pagan ones

So what about the indulgence in the spooky and scary? Skeletons are spooky, but they are also very Catholic. In fact, one couldn’t find a better haunted house for a Halloween pilgrimage than the various “chapel of bones” that can be found across Europe (Killian Brian. Halloween, as autumn celebration, reminder God’s name is hallowed. Catholic Online International News. 10/31/06.

While the above author claims that anti-Catholic sentiments are perhaps the reason for objections to Halloween, it should be noted that more recently other Catholic leaders have condemned it, while Protestant supporters, like some of those at Christianity Today endorse its observance and attempt to profit commercially from it (for specific see the recent article Origins of Halloween).

Interestingly, the powerful Roman Catholic archdiocese in Mexico City publicly condemned Halloween observance as pagan in 2007, though it is still being observed by many practicing Catholics there:

Mexico’s Roman Catholic church slammed Halloween as “damaging and against the faith” on Monday, as conservatives sought to stem celebration of the ghouls-and-goblins holiday and return to the country’s traditional Day of the Dead.

The U.S.-style holiday has made broad inroads in Mexico, with monster costumes almost as widely sold as the marigold flowers traditionally used to decorate relatives’ graves during Nov. 1-2 Day of the Dead ceremonies, when families build altars and leave food, drink and flowers for the dearly departed.

“Those who celebrate Halloween are worshipping a culture of death that is the product of a mix of pagan customs,” the Archdiocese of Mexico published in an article on its Web site Monday. “The worst thing is that this celebration has been identified with neo-pagans, Satanism and occult worship.”

The archdiocese urged parents not to let their children wear Halloween costumes or go trick-or-treating — instead suggesting Sunday school classes to “teach them the negative things about Halloween,” costume parties where children can dress up as Biblical characters, and candy bags complete with instructions to give friends a piece while telling them “God loves you.”…

Pre-Hispanic cultures celebrated a similar holiday in August, but after the Spanish conquest, historians say the date was changed to Nov. 1 to coincide with the Catholic holiday…

In another article, Onesimo Herrera-Flores complained that “Halloween, for a variety of reasons, has imposed itself on other nations, displacing native customs.”

Celebrating Halloween, he said, citing a church authority, is “like inviting Satan into your home.”  (Mexico’s Catholic church slams Halloween; conservatives call for return to Day of Dead. Associated Press – Oct 29, 2007

In 2009, the Vatican itself took steps to condemn Halloween:

Vatican condemns Hallowe’en as anti-Christian
The Vatican has condemned Hallowe’en as anti-Christian, saying it is based on a sinister and dangerous “undercurrent of occultism”.
Telegraph – Oct 30, 2009

It is good when religious leaders discourage those who profess Christ from observing pagan holidays with pagan practices.  Yet, most Catholics I have spoken with in Southern California seem not to be aware of Vatican condemnations of it.

While I do not believe those in the following report have gone far enough to remove all vestiges of paganism, some in Italy are attempting to have less of the Celtic pagan elements in their observance this year:

Catholic group shuns Halloween for ‘Holyween’

Wed Oct 27, 10:29 am ET

ROME (AFP) – As trick-or-treaters dig out their witch costumes, cut scowling faces into pumpkins and hone their apple-bobbing skills, young Catholic parishioners throughout Italy are preparing for “Holyween”.

Instead of dressing up as black cats or zombies, young faithful from some 30 Italian cities will spend October 31 hanging pictures of saints from their windows and balconies to celebrate the eve of All Saint’s Day…

From Turin to Palermo, residents and mayors are also preparing feast days with local cakes and biscuits like Ossa dei Morti (Bones of the Dead), with regional variations made with almonds, pine nuts, vanilla or chocolate.

“Halloween isn’t part of our identity,” the mayor of Calalzo di Cadore, near Venice, told ANSA news agency. Instead, the town will be hosting a ‘food marathon’ of local delicacies until late into the night.

Halloween is pagan and leaders in many professing Christian churches know this.  And some people are questioning some of it pagan practices.

From the Worldwide Church of God

The old Worldwide Church of God clearly taught against the observation of Halloween as can be shown below:

What about you and your children? What comes to your mind when thinking about Hallowe’en? The truth of the Bible? Not at all! Instead, weird and FRIGHTENING MASKS — persons PORTRAYED AS WITCHES AND DEMONS. Pumpkins and turnips hollowed out in the shape of EERIE-LOOKING faces! Lighted candles are placed inside to help bring out the more frightful side of these carvings. Dough is baked into small figurines RESEMBLING WITCHES AND SPIDER’S WEB CAKES are baked by the dozen for this occasion. Children, dressed up in the most revolting garments, are let loose on the neighbors, trying to scare the daylights out of them. Let’s be honest. I have before me the Good Housekeeping’s Book of Entertainment, which my wife picked up from the local library. On page 168 of this much-read book, there is a section on what to do on Hallowe’en. Notice the astonishing advice given! “Halloween decorations are quite as important as the food. When planning them, remember that if the room is to be dimly lit (preferably by candle and FIRELIGHT) the decorations must be bold to be effective. Orange, black and red, THE DEVIL’S COLOURS, are the colours associated with Halloween and THIS SCHEME SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT as far as possible . . . .  Have paper streamers and lanterns hanging from the ceiling, or, if you would like to have something less usual, you could make a giant SPIDER’S web with black and orange strings, or in narrow strips of crepe paper coming from the four corners of the room, complete with a LARGE SPIDER — one of the DEVIL’S FAVOURITE FOLLOWERS.” Notice where the stress lies! Read further of the black magic associated with this festival. “To decorate the walls, make large silhouettes of CATS, BATS, OWLS AND WITCHES ON BROOMSTICKS . . . . For the supper table small WITCHES WITH BROOMSTICKS can be made by using lollipops on 4-inch sticks.” Weird lanterns, witch-balls, and witches’ cauldrons are some other objects, the book suggests, which must fit into the evening somehow. How pagan can you get?

NOWHERE does the Bible command us to observe Hallowe’en. Hallowe’en and other common festivals which people observe in the Christian-professing world have NO BIBLICAL BASIS. They originated in paganism. The testimony of history stamps Hallowe’en as a HEATHEN festival. It’s built on a PAGAN FOUNDATION. Your Bible warns: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). Which is the BASIS of YOUR practice and belief? Turn to Deuteronomy 12:29-31 and read God’s condemnation of Hallowe’en! (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).

The above condemnation of such pagan practices are consistent with the teachings in the Bible irrespective of the opinions of men. The Bible teaches:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (Hebrews 13:8-9).

Certainly Halloween contains many pagan practices that Christians should realize are “strange doctrines” and it was not observed by the original Christians.  Therefore, irrespective of the opinions and later traditions of men, true Christians still do not celebrate pagan holidays like Halloween.  The Bible itself teaches that we should listen to the Bible above added traditions and opinions of men.

Origins from the Living Church of God and the Church of Rome

In its commentary today, the Living Church of God had the following:

By Roger Meyer (guest columnist) | Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tens of millions of children the world over are getting ready to dress up in strange costumes and scary-faced masks to go door to door and beg for candy treats by saying, “Trick or treat!” At the same time, teens and adults are also getting ready to attend parties and gatherings to celebrate this strange holiday by donning costumes that are ghoulish, bizarre or risqué…

From Egypt to Central and South America, this night was celebrated as the festival of the dead. In Ireland, this pagan Celtic festival celebrated on October 31st at sundown was known as Samhain. It was believed that the border between this world and the world of the dead became so thin at this time that the spirits of the dead, as well as other supernatural entities, could pass to this world, making communication with departed loved ones easy at this time. It was a night of superstitions, divinations, incantations and odd traditions.

Divination was practiced as a means to determine such things as the identity of one’s future spouse and how many children they might have. Apples were often used in these rituals, owing to the ancient sagas telling of the Celtic Otherworld wherein was located the apple tree whose fruit had magical properties.

Samhain continues to be celebrated today by neo-pagan Wiccans who consider it one of the principal religious days to honor the dead. But it is also celebrated by millions of ordinary people as a holiday named Halloween or All Saints’ Day.

Christianity attempted to convert the pagans to Christianity by attaching new meanings to the old pagan festivals. So this night of the dead was to be changed to honor the departed saints and renamed All Saints’ Day. But the pagan traditions continued unabated, as people to this day still wear costumes and masks, still carve pumpkins with scary faces, still place fake gravestones in their yard, still play games of divination, and still decorate with witches, ghosts, fake gravestones and various representations of the dead and the macabre.

Perhaps those celebrating the day have been treated to a trick by being seduced into observing a day which is thoroughly pagan in origin and practice.  Read more

Speaking of “donning costumes that are ghoulish, bizarre or risqué”, I read a news item today that many wish to dress as “Lady Gaga” for Halloween this year.  No one can consider how she provocatively dresses to be Christian, and no true believer would ever try to follow her risqué example.

Catholic scholars themselves admit that the day they call “All Saints”, which begins the evening before (October 31, “All Saint’s Hallowed Eve”) was not observed by early Christians, but was a later addition:

ALL SAINTS. As early as the fourth century, the Greeks kept on the first Sunday after Pentecost the feast of all martyrs and saints, and we still possess a sermon of St. Chrysostom de-livered on that day. In the West, the feast was introduced by Pope Boniface the Fourth after he had dedicated, as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs, the Pantheon, which had been made over to him by the Emperor Phocas. The feast of the dedication was kept on the thirteenth of May. About 731 Gregory III. consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Church in honour of all the saints, from which time All Saints’ Day has been kept in Rome, as now, on the first of Novem-ber. From about the middle of the ninth century, the feast came into general ob- eeiyance throughout the West. (Addis W, Arnold T. Catholic Dictionary, 6th ed. The Catholic Publication Society Co, 1887. Nihil Obstat. EDUARDUS S. KEOGH, CONG. ORAT., Censor Deputatu Imprimatur. HENRICUS EDUARDUS, CARD. ARCHIEP. WESTMONAST. Die 18 Dec., 1883. Imprimatur. John Card. McCloskey, Archbishop of New York. Feb. 14, 1884. Copyright, Lawrence Kehoe, 1884/1887. p20).

All scholars realize that the apostolic church did not observe Halloween or anything resembling it.

Notice also the following scripture:

Thus says the LORD: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,
For the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile (Jeremiah 10:2-3).

At their absolute best, Halloween customs are futile, came from the way of the Gentiles, and detract from the emphasis to worship the true God.  Those in the Church of God have always realized this.   And many in the Church of Rome are getting some understanding of that.

Halloween is not a holiday that the earliest Christians observed.   It should not be observed by modern Christians either.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja viva do deus? Tambien Español: Cuál es fiel: ¿La iglesia católica romana o La Iglesia del Dios Viviente? Auch: Deutsch: Welches zuverlässig ist: Die Römisch-katholische Kirche oder die lebende Kirche von Gott?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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